By Lieutenant-Colonel Douglas Martin
The Royal Canadian Air Force welcomed 20 new Reserve Force non-commissioned members during a graduation ceremony from basic military training on August 10 at Camp Aldershot, near Kentville, Nova Scotia. Two of the 20 were Aviators Shawna Kelly and Melanie Julien-Foster. They were assigned as fire team partners (FTPs) at the beginning of the course.
“Fire team partners are the first building blocks of a strong section and platoon,” says Lieutenant Jacob Turriff, course officer for the RCAF Reserve Basic Military Qualification (BMQ) course. “The concept of fire team allows individuals to rely on each other to accomplish tasks that they otherwise would be unable to accomplish on their own.”
Aviators Julien-Foster and Kelly quickly knew the value of having a trusted FTP.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better FTP,” said Aviator Kelly. “We knew each other's strengths and weaknesses and could anticipate when one was reaching their breaking point so that we could help each other to make sure we both made it out on top.”
Students are taught to work at everything with their FTP. The more time they spend together the greater a bond they develop and the more effective they become as a team.
“One thing I’ve really enjoyed on this course is my friendship with my fire team partner,” said Aviator Julien-Foster. “We are inseparable and that bond has been a significant asset. Long after the course, I think we will remain fire team buddies—our bond will last.”
Throughout the course, when orders are given or tasks are assigned, they are not necessarily issued to a specific individual but rather to a fire team as they are expected to achieve the goal together. “Whether it is something as simple as cleaning their bed space, watching each other’s arcs of fire while one takes a sip of water, or firing while another takes cover—fire team partners do everything together,” said Lieutenant Turriff.
“I know we will be friends for a long time, or as long as she will put up with me,” quipped Aviator Kelly. “Living in the same area and working on the same base will make (our friendship) that much better.”
The two aviators are assigned to 14 Wing, Greenwood, Nova Scotia. Aviator Julien-Foster will be trained as a supply technician while Aviator Kelly is slated to be trained as an aviation systems technician